PAID PARENTAL LEAVE: by Babette FrancisNews Weekly
Rudd and Abbott overlook stay-at-home mothers
, June 12, 2010
Children will suffer discrimination based on the workforce status of their parents if the Rudd Labor Government's draft paid parental leave (PPL) bill is enacted.
PPL would give families on two full-time incomes an average of $2,000 more per pregnancy than single-income families who get the baby bonus.
I, along with a number of like-minded pro-family activists, gave evidence on the subject recently to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee on the "exposure draft of the Paid Parental Leave [PPL] Scheme Bill 2010".
In our evidence we urged amendments to the bill to eliminate discrimination against single-breadwinner families where a dependent spouse chooses to be a full-time homemaker.
We protested against the stated objective of the bill (and of feminist submissions), which was to increase women's "attachment to the [paid] workforce". Whatever happened to enhancing attachment to babies and family?Administrative costs
Equal funding for all mothers paid via the baby bonus would save businesses the costs of being the "government paymaster" - administrative costs for small businesses would be high under the bill.
However, feminists are determined to make businesses "pay", even though the money comes from taxpayers, so that PPL looks like a "work entitlement" rather than "welfare". Stay-at-home mothers who receive the baby bonus can then be demoted to being a lesser breed on "welfare".
Mothers in paid employment already benefit from taxpayers subsidising the child-care industry. It is noteworthy that the Rudd Government has cut the number of new child-care centres from 264 to 32. It has found that, as in Norway, child-care centres are not economically feasible.
We emphasised that, rather than encouraging or economically coercing mothers into paid employment and putting their infants into institutionalised care, mothers should be enabled to care for their pre-school children. The current epidemic of obesity and the rise in allergies probably have their origins in the artificial feeding of infants instead of breastfeeding.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that infants receive only breast milk for the first six months, and encourages breastfeeding for two years. This reduces the incidence of respiratory and gastric infections. Senator Judith Adams (Lib, WA) requested more data on Australian breastfeeding rates.
We pointed out how official gross domestic product (GDP) measurements notoriously overlook the value of women's unpaid work, e.g., if a woman bakes a cake at home, only the ingredients are counted, but if she bakes the cake in a shop, her wage is also included. This statistical omission gives policy-makers the wrong impression that women are somehow unproductive if they are not in paid employment.
Employer groups which have declared their support for PPL because they need more workers are short-sighted - PPL will not
boost Australia's fertility. It is the stay-at-home mothers who have larger families than career women.
The United States and Australia are criticised as being the only developed nations without PPL, but their birth rates are higher than most European countries which do have such leave. More women in paid employment means a further reduction in the birth rate and will aggravate the shortage of workers in a decade or so.
Senator Mark Furness (Labor, Qld) asked in response to our assertion that PPL was discriminatory, why the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) did not consider the Rudd Government's PPL bill discriminatory.
I replied that the AHRC has several ideological biases. For instance, despite the evidence of ultrasound, AHRC
office-bearers refuse to acknowledge that a child in the womb is an individual. On a charter of human rights, the AHRC has been out of step, not only with the community, but even with Federal Labor party-room and recent NSW Labor premiers. Further, the AHRC is not sympathetic to the traditional family.
An unexpected kindness after we concluded our evidence was when Senator Claire Moore (Labor, Qld) spoke to me expressing her sympathy on the loss of my husband, Charles. She remembered the last time we gave evidence to the Senate, when Charles had been with me, and she knew how much I missed him.Abbott's scheme
Some unexpected confessions have come from Opposition leader Tony Abbott, whose scheme for six months' PPL by taxing big business was opposed by business groups and us. We said that his scheme was worse than the Rudd Government's bill. On ABC television's 7:30 Report
, Tony Abbott said that not all his verbal statements could be relied on, only his scripted policies. Let us hope that his six months' PPL scheme falls into the former category.
The Melbourne Herald Sun
reported on May 17 that several National Football League stars in the USA have offered to donate their brains to science after their deaths so that the effects of concussion can be assessed.
Tony Abbott was a boxer, and perhaps he might consider making a similar donation.Babette Francis, B.Sc. (Hons), is national coordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc. She recently gave evidence, representing Endeavour Forum and assisted by Carolyn and Geoff Mongan of Canberra, to the Senate community affairs legislation committee on the "exposure draft" of the Paid Parental Leave [PPL] Scheme Bill 2010.